Better late than never: “The government needs to be formed immediately and we need to get down to work,” SYRIZA’s former minister of state, Nikos Pappas, told media on Monday, a day after the leftist party was swept back into power.
It certainly is time for SYRIZA’s officials to get busy because so far they have looked a lot like a writer who constantly needs to sharpen his pencil before he put any words down on paper. They said they were ready to work three times: in January, July and September. Now they need to start putting this plan into action. They don’t need to create the masterpiece heralded by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at his pre-election speech in Thessaloniki, in which he vowed to transform Europe and make Greeks rich, but the more mundane and pragmatic task of rebuilding and economy that has been dealt a serious blow from their “honorable” negotiations with the country’s creditors.
There are a lot of questions that need to be answered after SYRIZA’s big win, however. Can it create a new narrative or will it continue selling pipe dreams to the citizens, claiming successful negotiations (“The Greek flag is waving over the capitals of Europe,” Tsipras said in his victory speech on Sunday) and plans for parallel programs? Will he be able to explain the strict laws of the economy in regard to production and consumption, or will he continue to espouse a half-baked Keynesian approach whereby consumption is greater than production? Will the prime minister be able to form a government with capable and hardworking officials (he has a surprisingly good pick from the caretaker government) or will he continue with the same inept bunch? Will the SYRIZA government understand that will power is necessary but certainly not enough to combat corruption and that only stable democratic institutions that take time to start bearing fruit can bring results?
Previous experience allows us to surmise that the SYRIZA-Independent Greeks administration has three ways to go now. The first is along the same path followed in the last seven months, selling smoke and mirrors with snazzy catch-phrases. This is also the most unlikely, not because some of the dead weight has been shed (like the Left Platform, Zoe Constantopoulou etc) but because even SYRIZA has realized that this is the path to the country’s destruction.
The second path is keeping the country barely afloat without making any radical changes, a tactic embraced by previous governments, which spent their days implementing reforms and their nights drafting amendments to nullify them. This path appears safe but is anything but, because in economics reality always comes back to bite you and we are already looking at a massive bill.
The third path is the path of truth and painful reforms. It is the hardest path by far, which is why no one ever chooses it.